What Do Most Retirees Do With Their Time?

  • Time to read: 5 min.

While every retiree is different, there are some commonalities in how retired people spend their time.

For example, spending time with family, volunteering, and traveling are ways to enjoy retirement.
In this article, we’ll examine the various ways in which retirees spend their days.

Increasing Population Of Retirees

With so many people now in retirement, you may be wondering, what do most retirees do with their time?

People spend their time in different ways during retirement. Factors such as income, family composition, and health influence what activities a retiree participates in.

According to the Administration for Community Living Profile of Older Americans,  one in seven Americans is 65 or older and this number is growing as more and more baby boomers reach retirement age. In Canada, one out of every five Canadians is 65 or older.

What then will be your life expectancy, 17 years, 25 years?

Data Commons provides information on a country’s life expectancy. For example, in the USA, the average life expectancy is 78.8, and in Canada, it is 82. Statistically, the average retirement age of boomers is 62.

So if you take into consideration a life expectancy of 78-82 years and the average retirement age of 62, you can expect to spend around 16-20 years as a retiree.

To pin down how much time one has is less important than what you will do with the time you do have as this you do have control over. So let’s look at what people are doing with that time.

Click this link to read our guide on The Importance of Leisure Planning for RetirementThe Importance Of Leisure Planning

The Importance Of Leisure Planning

Some Retirees Still Work

Many people continue to work throughout part of their retirement.

Some work out of economic necessity, while others enjoy the routine and social interaction that a job provides.

Around 18 percent of older adults remain in the workforce.

Working part-time during retirement offers more than just income.

Having a job provides the mental stimulation that can protect against cognitive deficits that may occur with age.

In addition, work often provides a sense of community, a way to be a part of societal changes.

Work can offer some individuals a sense of purpose, a way to contribute, and socialization for people who may otherwise be isolated or alone.

Many retirees take the opportunity to travel during their retirement years. For some, buying an RV and touring the country is the choice. For others, it means hopping a plane and going abroad.

Traveling can be an ideal way to spend time with those who have the means. Financially, 80% of older adults have enough money to live comfortably during retirement.

Without the demands of full-time work and raising a family, you can choose to see the world.

Caring For Loved Ones

Some retirees spend part of their retirement years caring for a spouse, partner, or other family members. For example, you might take care of grandchildren or support adult children with disabilities.

Today, many adult children are moving back into their parents’ homes with their children to make ends meet. So if you have adult children, you may find yourself in this situation as well.

A Time For Friendship

Finding opportunities to engage in social interaction is a priority for many retirees. Unfortunately, our social circle can become smaller as we age, and seniors’ isolation is a serious concern during retirement.

Twenty-seven percent of older adults live alone, leading to depression and cognitive decline.

Senior centers provide a space for older adults to gather and create new friendships. Activities often include arts and crafts, exercise classes, and card games. Many centers also offer communal meals as well.

Lifelong Learning

Some older adults turn to education during their retirement and may include attending classes at college to obtain a diploma or degree.

For some seniors, retirement is the first opportunity they have the time and money to dedicate to their education. Learning also takes place in less formal ways. For example, perhaps you opt to learn a new language, play a musical instrument, take a writing course, or develop your computer skills.

Many educational institutions offer free or reduced-price classes for people over 65. There are also opportunities to learn through library programs or community resource centers.


You may choose to spend some of your time volunteering during retirement. Volunteering is a great way to give you a sense of purpose and fulfill social engagement needs.

Popular volunteer options include helping children at an elementary school, serving food at a soup kitchen, and supporting people in your place of worship.

You may also volunteer with various environmental causes or political campaigns or choose to volunteer overseas with international organizations, providing support with hunger or disaster relief.

Religious Communities

Another way to decrease isolation and build social connections during retirement is to get involved with religious institutions. Many find that attending religious services is a fulfilling way to spend time in the community.

Involvement might include teaching children’s classes, cooking or serving meals, and helping with fundraising activities. Singing in a choir is another popular activity.

Spirituality and religion often increase in importance as people age, as aging can cause you to reflect on your mortality and the meaning of your life.

Religious communities can offer a great deal of support and comfort during this stage of life.

Hobbies And Leisure Pursuits

Retirement is an ideal time to pursue interests and hobbies. Many use their time to participate in activities like gardening, reading, or art.

Sports are also a common way to spend time. Golf, tennis, bowling, and bocce are popular among many. If these sports do not interest you, you may want to participate in swimming or water aerobics, Tai Chi, or yoga, which many enjoy.

Those living with chronic pain find water activities or the slow movements of Tai Chi or yoga helpful coping strategies as well.

Take the Am I Satisfied With My Leisure Quiz to determine your leisure satisfaction

Exploring Family History

Genealogy is another activity that many retirees enjoy. Learning about family history and ancestry can be a meaningful way to spend time during retirement.

Perhaps passing on your knowledge about ancestors to your children or grandchildren is important to you. Putting together photo albums and written information can be a great way to pass on this history.


Retirement provides increased time to dedicate to various pursuits. However, how retirees spend their time is influenced by factors such as health and income.

While some continue to work or volunteer, others focus on family or friendship. Traveling, pursuing education, or participating in a spiritual community are other everyday activities.

For many, retirement is a time to consider purpose and meaning.

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